Lonely Planet Writer

Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket gets its operating licence

Virgin Galactic says it has received an operating licence for its space tourism rocket from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The operating licence awarded by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation will ultimately permit commercial operations.

The company said the licensing process involved a review of the system’s design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis. Virgin Galactic’s first spaceship broke apart in 2014 during its fourth rocket-powered test flight when the co-pilot prematurely unlocked a key system.

Sir Richard Branson speaks to attendees after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, right, space tourism rocket was rolled out, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Mojave, Calif.
(Mark J. Terrill/AP)

The second version of the company’s SpaceShipTwo was unveiled in February. The first taxi test of the new spacecraft took place on Monday morning at the Mojave California airport.

The taxi test evaluated and calibrated navigation and communications telemetry systems as it was pulled by an off-road vehicle.

Handout photo issued by Virgin Galactic of Sir Richard Branson as he unveils the new Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, named Unity, in Mojave, California, as the company pushes ahead in the race to send passengers into space.
(Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

Described as ‘the world’s first commercial spaceline’, Virgin Galactic wants to make space more accessible to more people. Who knows, maybe one day taking a spaceship into the atmosphere will be as easy as booking a flight?